Capital's Tyhree Pratt (1) is surrounded by Musselman's Daniel Arndt (left) and Scott Mack.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Leading 14-10 at halftime, Musselman coach Denny Price knew the game was far from over because of Capital's big-play capability.Price's biggest worry came true when Capital used a five-play, 65-yard drive, capped by a James Richmond 4-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, to take a 17-14 lead on its opening drive of the second half.But Price knew his best defense against Capital could possibly be his offense and his players didn't let him down.Musselman ground and pounded to the tune of 317 rushing yards en route to a 42-23 upset victory over No. 7 seed Capital Friday night in a Class AAA first-round playoff game at Laidley Field.After attempting nine passes in the first half, No. 10 seed Musselman (8-3) called runs on 24 of its 28 plays in the second half."You saw the athletes on the other side of the field," Price said. "If we have the ball, then they don't. We knew we had to use ball control. We know we can throw the ball but we needed to work the clock. The offensive line and the running backs did a great job executing with no penalties or turnovers."Richmond led the Cougars with 114 rushing yards and three touchdowns along with 69 receiving yards."We just got whipped," said Capital coach Jon Carpenter. "They did a good job. They kept the ball from us. They ran it and didn't give us the big plays. It's hard when you look over [the sidelines] and that's the winningest coach and I'm barely shaven. He took me out behind the woodshed tonight."Capital played without one of its top offensive threats and its leading scorer, sophomore running back Kashuan Haley, who has an ankle injury.
Running backs Chase Arndt and Cody Spinks, meanwhile, spearheaded the Musselman rushing attack with 74 rushing yards each. Arndt also scored a touchdown, while Spinks added two TD runs."As a team, we are pretty dynamic," Arndt said. "We can either run or pass. Tonight, our run game was working for us."After falling behind 17-14, the Applemen scored 21 unanswered points on a Darrin Zombro 25-yard pass from Caleb Dembeck, a Michael Keller 5-yard pass from Dombeck and a Spinks 18-yard run, his second of the day.Dembeck, who threw for 25 TDs and nearly 2,000 yards in the regular season, didn't pass often but when he did he made it count, completing 10 of 13 for 99 yards and two scores."This was a big victory for us coming in at No.10," Dembeck said. "We came to play today. They are an explosive team. But we came out and probably played our best game of the year."Dembeck also ended any chance of a Cougar (7-4) comeback in the fourth quarter when he rushed for 35 yards on a fourth-and-goal from the Capital 40 as the Applemen were leading 28-17.
The Applemen now turn their focus to two-time defending AAA champion Martinsburg, who embarrassed them two weeks with a 73-0 thumping."We got beat and they have a great football team," Price said. "We have to go back to work now. The kids are looking forward to it. It will be a challenge."